Mass distribution

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For other uses, see Weight distribution.

In physics and mechanics, mass distribution is the spatial distribution of mass within a solid body. In principle, it is relevant also for gases or liquids, but on earth their mass distribution is almost homogeneous.

Astronomy[edit]

In astronomy mass distribution has decisive influence on the development e.g. of nebulae, stars and planets. The mass distribution of a solid defines its center of gravity and influences its dynamical behaviour - e.g. the oscillations and eventual rotation.

Mathematical modelling[edit]

A mass distribution can be modeled as a measure. This allows point masses, line masses, surface masses, as well as masses given by a volume density function. Alternatively the latter can be generalized to a distribution. For example, a point mass is represented by a delta function defined in 3-dimensional space. A surface mass on a surface given by the equation f(x,y,z) = 0 may be represented by a density distribution g(x,y,z) δ (f(x,y,z)), where g/\mid \nabla f \mid is the mass per unit area.

The mathematical modelling can be done by potential theory, by numerical methods (e.g. a great number of mass points), or by theoretical equilibrium figures.

Geology[edit]

In geology the aspects of rock density are involved.

Rotating solids[edit]

Rotating solids are affected considerably by the mass distribution, either if they are homogeneous or inhomogeneous - see Torque, moment of inertia, wobble, imbalance and stability.

Related topics[edit]

External links[edit]